#7 Animaland
Lookout Kate

Now, just to be very clear from the outset, I have never been in any doubt about the existence or otherwise of Gruffalos. I know they exist: I know that they have terrible tusks and terrible claws and terrible teeth in terrible jaws, I know they mate for life and prefer temperate climates and wooded areas. But none of us have ever seen one.

So we are going to Animaland, a chameleon-shaped landmass off Fantasea, to seek out the Gruffalo. I shinned up my lookout post and kept an eye out for any white or pink whales.

The Gruffalo wasn’t easy to find. We asked an owl, and a fox, but they were no use at all. At last we found a mouse, who pointed us – rather twitchily – in the right direction.

The Gruffalo was leaning up against an oak tree, scratching his back and humming.

He glared at us as he approached, and bared his teeth. Then he let out the most terrible roar.

We stood on deck, in a line, and our hair blew backwards in the gale.

Then the Captain retrieved her hat, and set it back on her head. ‘When they said you had terrible teeth in your terrible jaws, my dear,’ she said, ‘I didn’t realise it meant you hadn’t brushed them for years.’

The Gruffalo glared. He was opening his mouth to roar at us again, this time with extra spittle, when Copy Kat interrupted him.

‘When did you last see a dentist? Dental hygiene is really quite important, you know.’

The Gruffalo blushed. ‘In 1999, I think,’ he said. ‘I don’t like the noise the machines make.’

‘Would you like a toothbrush?’ asked In-The-Know Joe. ‘I’m sure we have a spare one.’

The Gruffalo smiled: and although his teeth were truly atrocious, his smile was beautiful. ‘That would actually be nice,’ he said. ‘I’ve had a scrap of deer meat caught in my back teeth since 2007.’

I ran and found the spare toothbrush and some Colgate, and we all watched as, very carefully, very thoroughly, the Gruffalo brushed his teeth.

He spat, neatly and politely, over the gangplank. ‘Ugh!’ He made a face. ‘I hate mint. Is this dental hygiene? If so, it is not delicious.’

‘You get used to it,’ said Satnav Stephen.

The Gruffalo looked hopefully around the ship. ‘You wouldn’t have anything to take the taste away, would you?’ he asked.

‘We were just about to have afternoon tea,’ said Cook Conomos. ‘Would you like some?’

‘I’ve never had any. Is it like Dental Hygiene?’

‘No,’ said Cook Conomos. ‘You’ll love it.’ Cook Conomos began brewing tea, and uncovered a dish of toasted sandwiches. The smell of it wafted out of the ship and out into the forest.

There was a knock on the side of the ship.

‘I’ll bet you ten pounds,’ said the Captain, and a smile began to play at the corner of her mouth, ‘that that’s the Tiger.’

‘Did I smell tea?’ said a Tigerish voice.

‘My old friend!’ cried the Captain. ‘We meet again! After all these years! You don’t look a day older!’

‘Neither do you!’ cried the Tiger.

‘My dear Tiger,’ said the Captain, ‘I was six.’

‘Well, perhaps a little taller,’ said the Tiger.

At that moment there was another knock on the ship’s door.

Cook Conomos opened it.

Her face was very straight as she turned to the Captain, but there was something about her eyes that suggested she was trying not to laugh.

‘Captain,’ she said. ‘We’re going to need quite a lot more cake.’

‘Who is it?’

‘Well, it’s dogs.’

‘How many?’

‘101 dogs.’

‘Ah.’

‘Quite. They’re all Dalmatians. I assume. Some of them might not be: it’s hard to tell, there’s so many of them and they keep moving. But – yes, I think it’s safe to say, we have 101 Dalmatians to tea -’

The Ever After’s crew began to chip in:

‘Plus the Tiger -’

‘And the Gruffalo -’

‘And a bear,’ said the Gruffalo, ‘who’s just arrived and who claims, as far as I can tell, to be called poo.’

‘Oh lovely! How is he?’

‘Well, at the moment, he’s opening all the jars in the galley in the hope that they might be honey, or jam or marmalade -’

‘Did someone say marmalade?’ came a voice. A furry face peered round the ship’s door.

‘Is this the same bear? Or another bear?’

‘I,’ said the bear with great dignity, ‘am an entirely other bear.’

‘Of course you are! Let me take your suitcase,’ said Copy Kat. ‘You must be tired. Is it raining outside?’

The bear began to pull off his raincoat and wellingtons. ‘Not right now, no,’ he said. His voice was gentle and earnest. ‘But one never knows, with Animaland.’

‘One never does,’ said the Captain. ‘I wonder if -’

At that moment there was hideous, bone-shaking noise outside the ship. Everyone froze. Pooh put down the honey pot.

Joe looked out of the portal. His face, as he looked up, was inscrutable.

‘Ah,’ he said. ‘I think we have a problem.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gruffalo image by Katy Riddell inspired by Axel Scheffler’s illustrations for the Gruffalo stories written by Julia Donaldson and published by Macmillan Children’s Books.
Winnie the Pooh image by Katy Riddell inspired by E. H. Shepard’s illustrations for the Winnie the Pooh stories by A. A. Milne.

Too Much Humandrama…
Captain Jones

First watch:
Fine weather dawning for story-collecting.  I’ve got a restless crew though – in that dangerous mid-voyage doldrums brought on by over-excitement and homesickness. The Land of Laughter left them in a silly mood, and they were further wound up by the frustration of being lost in Outer Space (I’m beginning to have my doubts about the skills of the Navigation Officer, though he came with the best references – from James T Kirk, Captain Nemo, Allan Quatermain and Dora the Explorer herself).
Satnav Steve tends to blame Twist for misdirection, but when I confronted her, she bristled and denied all knowledge. I thought our action adventures would allow everyone to let off steam, and to some extent they did, but at the same time they added exhaustion to the mix. My crew are, by and large, a skilled and valiant bunch, but even the most stoical can be pushed too far. I think they need settling down.

It’s calm sailing, and Lookout Kate reports distant land. Humandrama, I’m sure. She can see home fires burning. There are families I plan to visit: the Marches (those four girls and their Marmee are always welcoming), the Mortmains (a little eccentric, but that means they are likely to accept my motley crew), and the Cassons (good fun but also unconventional, and the hospitality can be a bit haphazard if their mother has been busy painting in her shed – but then Cook Conomos can rustle up a feast out of the most unpromising ingredients). I have a soft spot for Bobbie, Peter and Phyllis, and we can get to them up the railway line.  I’d like to gather up that moment on the platform when Bobbie’s father returned, for the Story Museum’s collection. It’s a gem, to add to our treasures. Though all that steam will require a bit of ingenious protective packaging from In-the-Know Joe.

I am working on the principle that a bit of weeping can be good for a crew.  Releases tension.  And besides bucketsful of tears can be useful for swabbing the deck.  Because we’re after some moments that could have pretty soggy consequences. The happy endings as much as the sad ones. Family reunions (Hetty Feather and her mum, Harry looking into the Mirror of Erised), substitute parents stepping into the breach (Miss Honey, Charles in ‘Rooftoppers’ defending Sophie against the woman from social services, Mister Tom rescuing William), and, well, let’s face it, a bit of romantic soppiness (Will and Lyra’s bench, and quite a few star-crossed lovers). Generally I expect stiff upper lips from my crew, but this may be the time to bawl rather than bale.

Last watch:
Well that didn’t work out quite as I expected.  Yes, there were tears, and also some very jolly family gatherings.  But the crew wandered into a school building and Satnav Steve found himself involved in a fracas with Greg Heffley and a lot of kids yelling “Cheese Touch!”. Cook Conomos too was drawn by a smell of cake into a class full of children and witnessed Miss Trunchbull hitting a chocolate-covered boy called Bruce Bogtrotter over the head with a plate.

And Lookout Kate stayed up late with a bunch of boarders for a midnight feast. Meanwhile In-the-Know Joe, who had been perfecting his time machine, was all over history, and emerged quite shaken by everything he had observed. So instead of coming back aboard rested, they were all even more overwrought, not to mention short of sleep and on a sugar high.

With such a fractious crew, I think we could be heading for trouble. This evening they answered back to orders, as if they are all taking their cue from Twist. And there are mutterings about the strictness of my regime, when everyone knows a safe ship needs a firm hand. They explored a lot of stories today about standing up to bullies. I fear it could be giving them ideas.

I am not sure I shall sleep easy in my bunk.

 

#5 Swash Bungling
Satnav Steven

Ahoy there, story-seekers! It’s Satnav Steven here, ship’s navigator onboard the Prattleship-Class Narrative Ark, The Ever After.

UGH… what a crazy mission it’s been so far. We’d spent the past few hours… or days… or weeks… drifting through the deepest depths of outer space. It’s hard to tell how long it had been with all this silence and blackness, but one thing was certain … the crew were all getting really, really, really, REALLY BORED!!

We ventured out here to seek Great A’tuin the lunar turtle that carries the Discworld on its back with the help of four giant elephants. It was the most INCREDIBLE thing I’ve ever seen. I nearly cried with excitement!

Sadly, before long Great A’tuin swam off though the crushing gulf of space, leaving us adrift and with very little hope of figuring out where we were.

Captain Jones turned to me for answers of course, but I didn’t have the slightest clue how to get back to wonderful world of the Story Universe. I accidentally dropped my compass in Cook Conomos’s soup yesterday lunchtime, and now it only pointed north-west no matter which direction I faced.

I was contemplating being honest and admitting to my fellow crew members that I’ve got the worst sense of direction this side of the Milky Way, when a huge stroke of luck rocketed past.

Suddenly, from out of the darkness, Lookout Kate spotted a glowing spaceship. It streaked alongside us with a hoard of brightly coloured aliens peering through its windows. In-The-Know Joe radioed across to them, but couldn’t make any sense of their strange language except that they LOVED underpants.

The creatures certainly looked like they knew where they were going, so I made a snap decision. I followed their course past undiscovered planets and galaxies of stars until… DRUM ROLL PLEASE… the massive and terrifically beautiful Story Universe was looming before us again. Phew!

The spaceship was heading for a cluster of islands at the eastern edge of the Appendy Seas. After a long struggle with squillions of the ship’s maps, I realised they were the Islands of Action. BRILLIANT! I didn’t need any further self-encouragement, so I programmed The Ever After to follow the aliens to this exciting new destination. After all, I’d always wanted to visit the Canyon of Adventure for as long as I can remember.

Before we knew it, The Ever After was cruising past the most incredible sights. I joined my crew members on the observation deck to enjoy the view… and what a view it was.

Captain Jones guided us past the haunted crags of Marooners’ Rock, where Captain Hook and the pirates of The Jolly Roger left their victims to be swallowed by the sea.

On the cliffs above the mouth of the great Canyon of Adventure, Lookout Kate pointed out the wreckage of a jet-plane with a gang of feral schoolboys dancing nearby it, and great prehistoric beasts lumbering about the edges of a vast, deep jungle. We were entering a lost world, that’s for sure.

‘Let’s take a closer look,’ Captain Jones said, and steered the ship carefully into the canyon. There were steep cliffs on either side of us and the narrow strip of sea beneath us looked deep and dangerous. ‘Keep a sharp eye.’

For a moment everything seemed quiet, until… COMPLETE CHAOS BROKE OUT!! King Louis and his army of monkeys appeared in the trees that overhung the gorge and started pelting us with rotten fruit.

A Viking boy, riding a toothless dragon shot past us. He was being chased by a swarm of terrifying, fire-breathing monsters. Indiana Jones narrowly missed the prose nest as he swung across the canyon on a vine to escape the path of an enormous stone ball that rolled down the rock-face, and a great white whale breached from the murky depths and sent a wave crashing across our hull. It was Moby Dick, and a very clear sign that it was time to get out of here.

‘Activate the narrative thrust!’ Captain Jones shouted, as King Kong smashed through a giant gate made from whole tree trunks and tried to grab us, swatting his mighty arms this way and that.

WHOOOOOOOOOSH!

We were off…

We whizzed through gullies and under toppled columns of stone. We swooped to avoid shrieking cannonballs from a castle of knights that towered above us, and dodged poison darts being fired by a tribe of cannibals in a ruined temple on the rocks below us.

Finally, just when it looked like we were done for, The Ever After shot out of the other end of the Canyon of Adventure and made a steady climb into the cool evening air. Everything felt suddenly quiet and peaceful.

Before us we could see the quadruple, sprawling masses of the cities of Thriller, Crime, War, and Spies.

‘What next, Captain Jones?’ asked In-The-Know Joe.

The Captain looked at us with a glint in her eye and slight smile. ‘Those cities won’t explore themselves,’ she said… and on we went.

Ever After…

 

 

 

#4 Elephant Hairs
Lookout Kate

Lookout Kate here, reporting for duty. I’ve been up in the crow’s nest, watching the land of Fantasea grow closer.

Fantasea isn’t like the other lands we’ve visited – it’s a place between places. The West is a vast lake, full of islands which smell of extraordinary cooking and extraordinary people. A significant part of Central Fantasea – often inconveniently – is entirely invisible. But we were headed to the North of Fantasea, which, if you weren’t looking carefully, you could mistake for a forest. We landed at the edge of the wood, Satnav Steven studied the map, the Ever After deployed its wheels, and we trundled down a dirt path, into the deep darkness of the wood.

Navigating Fantasea is more exciting and perilous than most places, because it’s like walking a tightrope. Step off the path and you might find the ground giving way and yourself launched suddenly through time and space and story, into Middle Earth or Earthsea or Wonderland.

‘Everyone keep your hands inside, please – and catch the Bandicoot before she gets over the edge! We don’t want her ending up in Narnia again!’

In-The-Know-Joe reached out and caught Twist just as she got her front paws over the railing. He stroked her fur. ‘I know, I know. You want to explore,’ he whispered in her ear, ‘but the snow in Narnia gets in your whiskers and gives you flu. There’s nothing worse than a snotty Bandicoot.’

Fantasea is one of the richest lands in the world. The air smells enticing; of the winds of a thousand worlds and – perhaps unexpectedly, given how few great adventures involve washing – of clean laundry. There were many places we needed to go, and deciding where to go first was difficult. Everyone had a different opinion.

‘One at a time, crew!’ said the Captain. She took off her magnificent hat and shook her head. ‘Honestly, it’s like herding squirrels.’

I wanted to make the journey to Lyra’s Oxford, to see if we could find an alethiometer – it would make the job of a Lookout much easier, I thought, to be able to read the secrets of the world. Our Captain had a deep longing for the Pensieve, to store our memories safe forever. Cook Conomos thought we could do with a trip to Wonderland, to pick up some shrinking and expanding potions; useful for expanding rations.

But in the end, necessity won the day. The ship’s superb artist, Copy Kat, was in need of a new set of paintbrushes. There are many good paintbrushes available on Fantasea – just look at all the talking paintings – but the best, the really exquisite, fine-tipped paintbrushes, can only come from the ear-hairs of an enchanted elephant.

So we took a sharp right, towards a place where a cluster of black holes grew on great black oaks. We soared through the largest of the holes and into space.  

‘Hold on!’ cried the Captain – and we found ourselves flying through space – so fast I could feel my ribs rattling in my chest – towards Discworld and Great A’tuin.

Great A’tuin is a turtle. A big one. On the turtle’s back are four world-supporting elephants, and on the backs of the elephants is the Discworld, one of the most chaotic and sharp-witted worlds in the universe. Nobody knows the sex of Great A’tuin, though several spaceships have been sent to find out: but Great A’tuin is a private turtle, and people who get too close tend to end up more dead than they’d originally planned.

We swooped as close to Great A’tuin as we dared, steering clear of their claws, and Copy Kat leaned far over the edge with a pair of nail scissors. The front left elephant flapped its ears at us, annoyed, and as it did so Kat snipped off five fine hairs.

The elephant trumpeted – not hurt, but insulted – and we veered away into space, Kat clutching the hairs in her hand.

For a few minutes we stood on the deck, watching the great blackness of the universe, and the millions of stars. It was extraordinarily beautiful; the kind of sight you wouldn’t dare even dream of.

Then Satnav Steve spoke. ‘Captain,’ he said, ‘is this a good moment to mention that we’re lost?’

#3.1 Little Jack Horner Pie
Cook Conomos

Dear crew I regret that I have to leave the business of cooking in your hands while I am absent! Please carefully follow my meticulous instructions below!!

Little Jack Horner Pie

Ingredients:

Old mother Hubbard’s bone

Queen of hearts tarts

Broth without any bread

Snips and snails and puppy dogs tails (a bandicoot tail will work just as well)

Curds and whey

Plum – large and preferably organic

Oranges and lemons

Sugar and spice and all things nice

Four and twenty blackbirds

 

Method: 

Arrange the blackbirds in your work space and make sure they start singing BEFORE you prepare your mixture. That way you can be sure that your preparation will be sound and your method will match the pace and rhythm of the rhymes that they have been created from.

Using Mother Hubbard’s bone as a pestle crush half of the tarts into large pieces in time with the music – do not pulverise.

Take the other tarts and beat them with the puppy dog’s tail to flatten them and then use the tail as a rolling pin so that they form one sticky smooth pat-a-cake.

In a large baking tray place the crushed tarts in neat rows along the base of the tray. Leave the pat-a-cake to one side as it will form the lid to your pie.

In a separate bowl prepare the curds and whey. Grate in the orange and lemon zest and then squeeze the juice into the mixture. Leave to stand for 10 minutes.

To prepare the plum first take out the stone. To do this cut along the crease, give it a twist (not referring to Mr Twist our bristly bandicoot) and the stone should come out with ease. Put the plum and Old Mother Hubbard’s bone into a saucepan and boil both in water adding the sugar and spice and all things nice so that these will flavour the broth.

Pour the broth over the crushed tarts in the tray to soften them.

Add the curds and whey mixture on top (look out for spiders!)

At this point using your thumb stick the plum into the centre of the pie.

Finally add the pat-a-cake on top, do not press down so that the curds and whey will not overflow. Prick it and pat it but DO NOT mark it with B (or else the bandicoot will think it is for him).

Use the snail slime to glaze the pat-a-cake and put the pie in the oven for 10 minutes.

If you make it just right it will be good from the first to the very last bite!

 

Love from Cook Conomos xxx

#3 Baby Bunting and the Land of Limericks
In-the-Know Joe

This is the log of science officer In-The-Know-Joe. We eventually left the whizz-banging craziness of the land of laughter no thanks to that dastardly Bandicoot Twist. I have it on good authority that it was because of her that our sensitive ship, The Ever After went off course.  The Ever After is a delicate machine, it needs to be treated gently and not have a pig-footed bandicoot going cock-a-foot all over its finely tuned instruments. I spent all day feeding the narrative thrust drives ‘feel good’ stories and happy endings to get our Prattle Ship back on track and now we find ourselves on the island chain of Bardland.

Bardland is a strange group of islands where nothing is quite what it seems. We landed on a salt marsh where we overheard nymphs talking to Goblins of green glass beads and red ruby rings though no matter how hard we looked we could not find the owners of the voices.  Kate Rundell, the ships boy was convinced of treasure and ran off over the salt marsh only to disappear into a gathering mist.

We called for her to no avail, Satnav Steve was sure he could track her but after following him for several hours we found ourselves back where we started, that’s when we heard a bang, a crash and a clatter. We had chanced upon the Onomatopoeic Forests.

The wind was whooshing,

the leaves rustling

every stick we stepped on snapped!

Every log we went around cracked!

We snapped and cracked

past gurgling rivers

through bubbling brooks when we heard

a clanker, a boink and a bump coming from a big red box!

A big red box

sitting out in the wood

I did not like it

no smart person would

it banged and it clattered

it boomed and it swelled

“Don’t go near it!”

came a shout from a girl.

She was up in a tree

so very high,

a girl in a tree

swaying up in the sky

we squinted

we stared

with our binoculars out

it was Kate, the ships boy

on the look-out.

“There are Things

in that box

that will jump everywhere

I barely escaped them

I trapped them in there.

They are Things that are crazy

that juggle fishes and stews

they call themselves silly names

THING one and THING two.”

It was only after we got the big red box safely packed on to The Ever After that we realised we’d been speaking in poems – these islands truly are magic.

Once we’d eaten our lunch of alphabetty spaghetti we headed back out to explore hopping on dream boats to the near-by island of Lullaby where ship’s artist Copy Kat gathered several jars of the “sleep” gunk that gathers at the corners of your eyes when you dream. On Lullaby there are mountains of the stuff smelling faintly of malt and hot cocoa. She said she had been looking for just that shade of yellow for her pictures. We took a brief nap on Lullaby before finding a bridge made of bunting, of various coloured fabric triangles, joining the Island of Lullaby to the near by Isle of Limerick. Swinging across this bunting were loads of very active smiling babies.

“If babies can do it so can we.”

Exclaimed Captain Jones and so we joined the babies hand over hand over the bunting bridge. We did wonder where the parents of these brave babies were, there were lots of rabbits on the island so maybe they were hunting or milking the cows we could hear mooing in the distance.

As soon as we landed in Limerick…

we met an old man in a wheel

with an orange he was trying to peel

he got covered head-to-foot

in orangey gloop

that poor fruit-starved man in the wheel.

He said his name was Edward Lear as he rolled off in search of more fruit to peel.

We left the rolling hills of Limerick  with just enough time to see the

fun sun set on the jungles of Rhyme with its…

funky monkeys

and small, half-giraffes

nibbling from the low leaves

of the knee trees.

We gathered some bags of rhymes to add to our big red box containing THING one and THING two.

As we sailed away on The Ever After we could hear battles being fought on the last island of the chain – the island of Ballad where great poetic battles are had between knights and dragons and kings and queens. As the thrust engines thrummed Look Out Kate was in the Prose Nest shouting down to us who was winning the battles on Ballad Island until it became too dark to see and all we could hear was the splishing and splashing of the waves.

#2.1 Strange noises…
In-the-Know Joe

There were strange loud noises coming from the Nonsense Marshes. I took out my listening trumpet and galumphed through the muddy waters rubbing my hands on the bellies of the Tumtum trees as I went (they are supposed to be lucky). My space suit was ruined by the time I got to the place where the sounds were coming from. Whatever was making the noises must have heard me coming for it shrieked and bellowed away. But on the ground I found a sword, an original Snicker-Snack Vorpal Blade! I was so pleased I yelled “Calloh! Callay!” What a fine addition for our collection.

#2 Ship’s Blog
Satnav Steven

Ahoy there, story seekers!

It’s Satnav Steven here, reporting from the observation deck of our terrific story-laden vessel.

Ooh it’s been a tense few days on board the Ever After.

Captain Jones got her medals in a muddle after I was late boarding the ship on the first day of our mission, and she spent the rest of the afternoon pacing about in the Never-ending Store. She was furious, and I suppose I can’t blame her. The Captain runs a tight ship and HATES tardiness.

It really wasn’t my fault though. I made sure I left lots of time to make it to The Story Museum, but I just kept getting lost. Every street in Oxford looks the same to me.

You see, I’ve got a bit of a problem.

You’re probably thinking my name is Satnav Steven because I’ve got an incredible sense of direction and I can track my way across the Story Universe with my eyes blindfolded. I am the navigator on board the Ever After after all.

NOPE!

My name is Satnav Steven because I really, really, really need one. I’m hopeless. I get lost looking for my hammock in my own cabin, but PLEASE don’t tell Captain Jones. I don’t think she’s figured out my secret yet, and she’ll kick me off for certain if she does.

I wouldn’t mind, except I LOVE stories and I’ve dreamed of working on board a Prattleship Narrative Ark since I was a boy.

Anyway… enough babbling… let’s get back to the mission.

After my late arrival, Captain Jones altered our course. We were supposed to be setting sail for the Land of Laughter, but she thought I could learn a lesson about good timekeeping by hearing a few moralistic fables, and changed our destination to The Spoken Isle.

I was determined to get it right. I checked the compass about a squillion times and plotted our coordinates exactly. We would take a direct route over the Final Fantasea and be in the Realm of Fables by dinnertime.

The only problem was, I’ve actually never used a compass before and I had the chronometer upside down.

I’m pretty sure you can guess what happened next. By the time dinnertime rolled around, instead of the sweeping hills of Myth and Legend, we were staring at the lop-sided, rainbow-coloured towns of Parody and Humour. Yep… after all that, we’d arrived at the destination we were meant to be heading for in the first place. THE LAND OF LAUGHTER!

I managed to convince In-The-Know Joe that Twist, our pet pig-footed bandicoot, had knocked the navigation gadgets when she was chasing a mouse and must have scrambled our coordinates. He spent the rest of the day back in the Narrative Thrust engine rooms tinkering with them. Ha!

So… somehow, I got out of that one. We ended up having a BRILLIANT time and even gathered our first artefacts whilst exploring the streets.

I stopped off in the neighbourhood of PRANKS to see my old friend, Dennis the Menace and grab a SLOPPER-GNOSHER-GUT-BUSTIN’-BURGER with him at Beanotown Burgers. He showed us all the funniest places to visit and donated his trusty catapult to the Ever After’s collection.

Then we popped over to Farmer Jenks’ field at the edge of town to spend the afternoon with Just William and his gang of outlaws, Ginger, Henry and Douglas. It took a bit of persuading, and I had to give up a large chunk of my stash of sweets and chocolate, but William finally agreed to give us his blue and white stripy cap to add to our booky treasure-trove onboard.

You might think that Dennis the Menace’s catapult and Just William’s cap were a really great start to our hunt for funny artefacts, but it didn’t end there. Just when we were about to head back to the ship, I spotted a scruffy house with a dead tree and a huge cage in the back garden. We snuck inside for a bit of a nose about and discovered two piles of clothes in the middle of the floor and all the furniture glued to the ceiling. I’m sure you’ve guessed which gross double-act the house used to belong to…

That’s right! Mr and Mrs Twit! No one wanted to stick around in that horrid place for too long, but we made our final discovery and collected something deliciously funny and wickedly hilarious.

Wait for it…

MRS TWIT’S GLASS EYE!

It’s been safely wrapped and put away in the Never-ending Store along with the other treasures. It won’t be long before they’re joined by tons of other exciting story-related objects.

Here’s hoping we end up somewhere just as fun the next time I get us all lost.

This is Ship’s Navigator, Satnav Steven signing off.

Ever After…

 

#1.1 The Launch Date
Captain Jones

We launch on an auspicious day: 10 February, Plimsoll Day, the birthday of my hero Samuel Plimsoll, a Victorian who campaigned for the safety of sailors. Gave his name to the load line that shows how deep in the water a vessel can sit.  And also to the shoes schoolchildren wear for PE which were named after him by a sales rep called Mr Lace (it’s true – Lace who was in shoes) because, being rubber underneath and canvas above, they can only be safely immersed in water up to a certain point, like a merchant ship.

There’s our first story, though a true one. Perhaps I shall give my plimsolls to The Story Museum.